The Kent State men's basketball team emerged from a 40-minute slugfest with two-time defending Mid-American Conference Tournament champion Buffalo, holding off a late charge to earn a 68-65 victory in their quarterfinal clash at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
The No. 6 seed Golden Flashes (20-13) will make their first appearance in the MAC tourney semifinals since 2013 tonight, when they meet second-seeded Ohio (20-10) at 8 p.m.
Flashes senior forward Jimmy Hall finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, and hit two clutch free throws with 12.9 seconds left to give his team a three-point lead. Kent State's defense then forced the Bulls (17-15) to take a desperation 3 at the buzzer that was not close.
The contest featured 56 personal fouls. The Flashes' second- and third-leading scorers this season, sophomore guard Jaylin Walker (12 points) and senior wing Deon Edwin (14 points, 11 rebounds), fouled out in the closing minutes. Three Bulls were also disqualified due to fouls, including leading scorer Blake Hamilton (17 points) and leading rebounder Nick Perkins (11 points, 8 rebounds).
Free throws proved to the the difference, as Kent State made 29-of-41 charity tosses while Buffalo shot 24-of-34 from the stripe.
The Flashes kept the long and athletic Bulls out of transition by committing just 12 turnovers while forcing 13, and made it a halfcourt game that their defense dominated. Kent State sophomore center Adonis De La Rosa took four charges, and Buffalo shot 35 percent from the field.
For more on Thursday's game, see the print and online editions of Friday's Record-Courier.